The American Mud Race, a grassroots project put together by UCF alumni, promises an adventure that begins at 8:30 a.m. with mud and ends with a party. All proceeds go to West Orange Habitat for Humanity’s project Home at Last, which has been providing one mortgage-free home every year for severely wounded combat veterans since 2007.
“AMR was founded this past April by four UCF alumni with a competitive spirit. When we were students at UCF, it was ingrained in us that UCF stands for opportunity, and I truly believe that,” AMR co-founder and UCF graduate Tyler Bloechinger said.
Fellow alumni Chris Pixley, Greg Meerbaum and Maritza Spero came together with Bloechinger, sharing the goal of creating a one-of-a-kind adventure race that would get the whole industry talking. Partnered with other UCF alumni, Kyle Israel, chief development officer of Problem Solved, a local Internet marketing company, and Sterling Brown of Mercedes-Benz of South Orlando at Millenia, which is the presenting sponsor, the AMR was born.
The first-ever AMR will be held Aug. 25 at Bithlo Motorsports, which is approximately 11 miles from the UCF main campus. Registration information, payment options, frequently asked questions and contact information is all available at americanmudrace.com. Late registration for the mud race is $75 with a $10 discount available for UCF students and alumni online. Wristbands for food and unlimited beer can be purchased for an additional $12.
Participants, either as individuals or in teams, will run a track 3.4 miles long with at least 20 obstacles throughout. Don’t forget the namesake of this shindig — the entire race will be completed in the mud. Participants who make it through the race, as well as spectators, should be ready to get down at the after party, which offers food, drinks and live music.
“The main goal is to challenge people both mentally and physically, then reward them with a wild after party filled with cold beer, live music and great food, all while giving back to a great cause,” Bloechinger said.
With the first race quickly approaching, AMR is drawing in participants from all over Central Florida. By combining the uniqueness of an adventure race with the grassroots concept of utilizing the expertise and services of local businesses, AMR has many local business owners as well as UCF students and alumni signing up to get dirty.
Heissam Jebailey, who graduated from UCF in 2000, is currently the managing partner of local business Jebden Management Inc. and runs the event-planning company Press On Events. AMR is an event that immediately caught his attention with its local ties, charitable cause and, of course, the novelty of the mud.
Jebailey formed team I’m In to complete a basic 5K for the American Lung Association a couple of months back. When he heard of the mud race he applied the same concept.
“This time we have more than 44 people on the team. There is a lot more excitement around the fact that it’s a 5K but with 20 obstacles and in the mud — it’s an all-day party in the mud.”
The idea of a unique adventure race in the mud appealed to some students on campus as well.
“I’ve never run in a mud race before. If I had heard about the mud race sooner I would absolutely be interested,” said Jordon Munizzi, a UCF graduate student studying anthropology. “I definitely think that it would be an effective way of raising money for a charity. It sounds like fun.”
The novelty of the American Mud Race is effectively drawing people in, not only participants but spectators as well. There is no cost to watch your friends get muddy. Participating in the AMR is almost like a 2-for-1 deal, Bloechinger says, as participants aren’t only donating to charity but are also embarking on a journey through the mud.
“I believe it’s all about the experience you create for people. Our participants are not simply making a donation to a charity, but they are paying for an all-day adventure. When people see or hear about our race, we want them to stop and think, ‘Wow that looks crazy, like a ton of fun, and it’s going to a great cause,’” Bloechinger said.